My mum and dad have recently been in the market for a new kitchen for their home. It’s one of those things that has needed to be done for a while, but a busy work life has generally got in the way. Anyway, they have found the time to get it sorted and they chose Howdens to do the work for them. Out of all the features that impressed them, the feature that impressed me was the brochure that they produced, or rather book. And it is a book:

In fact this particular book is 256 long, and every single page is used well. Most are filled with “living” shots showing exactly how their products look fitted:

The quality of the photography is superb, the quality of the card and paper used is very good indeed and they have managed to fit as much of the kitchen in as possible in a single shot. On the opposite pages, they have also backed this up by having more close up shots of individual items within that kitchen. But Howdens didn’t stop there. Although the overall quality of the brochure is fantastic in most respects, they have gone one better and added an augmented reality facet to the brochure. If you download their app and hold your smartphone or tablet over any of the main photo pages, you see an icon like this:

Click the play button and it sends you to YouTube with a video especially for that type of kitchen:

What Howdens are doing is making the most of both print and web based marketing by linking them both together. A clever yet simple way of keeping both type of marketing relevant, and reliant on each other. As far as marketing goes, this is something that caught my eye. Oh, and this 256 page brochure packed full of extremely professional photography and augmented reality features was completely free.

So why am I showing you all this? Well, plain and simply, this is how you do a brochure, and this is what our industry should be looking at trying to copy and even better. So many times I continue to see half arsed brochures printed on cheap paper, with shots of doors, one after another on a white background looking about as inspiring as watching the England football team. How do we expect to excite homeowners with drab, boring, poorly printed brochures? We won’t and it’s that simple.

However, there are some companies out there that are really getting it. They understand that if we want to inspire our potential customers about windows and doors, they need to see more than just the window, but a home that it is going to be fitted into. Only that way will people start to understand how their new windows and doors are going to look. And it is these “living” shots which we all need to start getting behind.

To be fair, the timber alternative companies seem to be doing a very good job of that so far. I know many of them have spent a fair amount of time on professional photographers, dummy products in tester homes, case studies from real installations etc. They understand that by leaning up a window or door against a plain backdrop isn’t going to cut it any more. We work in a competitive market people. It’s time our marketing really grabs customers by the scruff off the neck and says “hey look at me, not those doors looking like a criminal line up, these are the windows and doors you want!”

And it needs to be book size. And we need to stop calling them “leaflets” and “brochures”. The ideology starts with first impressions, and this includes marketing. You hand a customer something 60-80 pages thick, printed on high quality paper or card, subconsciously you have already planted the first seed. Hand them something with poor photography, thin and flimsy paper with about a dozen pages, they’ve probably already forgotten about it. And credit where it is due, Door-Stop were probably one of the first to realize that. For a start they called them “books” rather than “brochures”. And the photography and graphic design was far better than anything else out there at the time. They had “living” shots with their doors installed on people’s homes rather than floating on the page. But it was also well laid out and designed, making it easy for the customer to tailor their door.

It is this, very much like the Howdens kitchen brochure that we all need to start investing in. Yes it costs a bit more to do. But if you invest in the right people with the right skills and the quality materials, with real life shots rather than superimposed rubbish, I promise it will reflect much better on your company. I know it did for my parent.